Make Change Easy

It’s good to see Harvard Business Review promoting the idea that if you want to get employees to change, you need to make the new behavior easy to do. If you want people to eat fruit, give them a banana and not a mango—or else they’ll grab a muffin.

The same logic applies to customers, since they’re people too. 🙂 When we build Salesforce apps that ask salespeople to do extra work, we always push hard to get extra attention focused on the ease of use of those features. Salespeople can usually ignore your app if they close enough business, leaving you with an “adoption problem.”

Stanford professor BJ Fogg has a great Behavior Model that explains the forces at play more completely. Essentially, it’s a question of motivation vs. ability: if the salespeople are unmotivated to log their activity or use your app, you better make it easy. On the flip side, no one ever had to set an alarm to eat dessert. People will endure great pain to become famous in Hollywood.

Bottom line: when you’re building and selling products, you’re generally better off ignoring motivation and instead focusing on reducing any friction involved in buying or using your product.

Microsoft CEO Institutes Customer Visits

Nice little article in Quartz today about how Satya Nadella changed things for the better at Microsoft, including customer visits during executive retreats:

Another decision, not universally loved, was scheduling customer visits. “There was more than a little eye rolling and groaning,” Nadella reports. But the next morning, roughly 150 retreaters were split into groups and traveled together in vans to visit clients, including large and small businesses, schools, hospitals, and startups. Each van, Nadella says, carried one “nervous account manager” along with a cross-section of business leaders from a range of company departments, like marketing, engineering, and finance.

When they all regrouped for dinner back in the mountains, the employees were assigned tables within remixed groups, and were therefore not able to fall back into their regular circles and—let’s be honest— gripe. Instead, each person was asked to describe their day and discuss where they saw the company’s culture and where it should go. Nadella writes that he expected little engagement, more of a “let’s-get-this-over-with” attitude. “They’d be persnickety” he predicted. Instead, he claims, the conversations went long into the evening.

There’s something in human nature that makes it next to impossible to ignore the plight of your customer when you see it with your own two eyes. It doesn’t matter if the evidence is only anecdotal.

Alan Kay Explains the Principles of Xerox PARC

Most people are lucky to spend part of their career on a team that effectively executes against its goals. Having been in organizations that couldn’t, I consider myself quite fortunate at this point.

So the thought of being in environment without goals—as Alan Kay describes Xerox PARC—kind of boggles my mind. Pursuing research towards a bold vision of the future without prescribed targets would be kind of amazing, but it would be easy to feel adrift. I wonder what it was like to lead/manage in that environment.

I’m glad they pushed through.